EcoEng Newsletter No. 12, June 2006

Various new items

Content No. 12/06
  Title page / Index
  Water from the well
  Phototrophic biofilms
  optimising waste flow
  India: Water supply
  schemes in a slum
  Austria: Sewerless city
  Composting: Ch. 5
  PNG: Ecosan project
  Biopros project
  Ecosan curriculum CD
EcoEng News:
  Joe Swamp
Various issues:
  IEES Writers' Fund
  Mailing list
  EE-Newsletter Flier
IEES 1: Ecosummit 2007

IEES is one of the co-sponsoring organizations of the Eco Summit 2007 (May 22- 27) in Beijing, P.R. of China. We therefore encourage IEES members to attend this conference.

This Eco Summit will focus on integrative aspects of all ecological science and its application under the general theme of "Ecological Complexity and Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities for 21st-Century's Ecology". The aim of this Eco Summit is to encourage a greater integration of both the natural and social sciences with the policy and decision-making community to develop a better understanding of the complex nature of ecological systems. This understanding will provide the basis for sustainable solutions to environmental problems.

The organizers expect this meeting to attract the broadest representations of ecological organizations, ecologists and practitioners on ecological sustainability issues from all over the world. They intend to show the unification and determination of our ecological community as a whole to maximize the commitment to use ecological knowledge and understanding to meet the challenges raised from the Earth Summit (1992), the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), and the United Nations 2005 Millennium Review Summit.

Deadline for submitting symposium proposals is August 20, 2006


Invitation to IEES Board Meeting and IEES General Meeting 2006
  A message to all IEES members by Johannes Heeb, IEES president:


Dear IEES members, dear IEES board members

It is a pleasure for me to invite you to our next meetings in Norway:

- IEES Board Meeting, Sunday August 13 2006, 10:00-16:00
- IEES General Meeting, Sunday August 13 2006, 17:00-19:00

The meetings will take place in Aas (south of Oslo at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Norway (we will send you detail information later).

Agenda for IEES Board Meeting (also open for IEES members):

- IEES strategy 2007-2010
- EU-projects
- IEES articles 2007
- IEES business matters
- IEES promotional activities
- Open floor

Agenda for IEES General Meeting:

- Business report IEES
- Information from the IEES Board Meeting
- IEES articles 2007
- Financial report and budget
- Elections
- Membership fee 2007
- Open floor

Please confirm your participation by sending back an email to:

For your information: On August 14 2006, the one week course “Appropriate sanitation for the developing world” will start at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Aas. More information and application forms are available on The focus of this course is to explore ecological sanitation solutions for developing countries. Solutions for crisis situations are also discussed. The course is designed for both professionals and students. Participants include consulting engineers, NGO personnel (field and administrative), public officials (e.g. health and foreign service), research scientists, and students from various disciplines.

I am looking forward to meet you in Aas!

Johannes Heeb

Co-President IEES


Note: A preparatory discussion group has been opened in our community environment where you can leave notes about your wishes and needs for the further development of IEES.

India 1
New biogas plant built for feces from Rajendra Nagar slum toilets
 Fig. 1: New biogas plant at ACTS Rayasandra Campus
Remember the article by Urs Baier on the Ecosan project at Rajendra Nagar slum in EcoEng-Newsletter No. 11 of Sep. 2005 ? Two months later, in November 2005 some more information came in that might be of interest to all who follow the project. Therefore it is re-published below:

A new biogas plant (...) has been in operation for almost 2 months then and replaced composting trenches at the ACTS Rayasandra Campus, which had been previously used for the treatment of faecal matter collected from the ACTS PublicToilet Centre in Rajendra Nagar Slum.

The biogas produced is used for cooking and substitutes a certain proportion of liquid gas used. Having a retention capacity of 25 m3, the biogas plant allows extension of the sanitation project on new to be built public toilets. Subsequent treatment of the digested slurry will be done in sludge drying beds.

To further improve hygienic conditions at the public toilet centre in Rajendra Nagar Slum, wash-water that isn't taken up by the planted infiltration bed, is now drained to a nearby municipal sewer. Construction of the new suction unit for the evacuation of faeces and urine is already done and the new logistics system for collection and transportion of source separated urine and faecal matter will be implemented by November 2005.


India 2
CSE needs volunteers for nationwide study on rainwater harvesting
  The CSE (Centre for Science and Environment) News Bulletin of June 1, 2006 writes:

We need your help to create a public online database of urban rainwater harvesting systems (URWH) implemented across the country over the past few years. We want to find out how many people are harvesting rain, where and how they are doing it, and what the impact is.

If you have an Urban rainwater harvesting project in your house, colony, office or institution, if you have helped others to build a system, or if you are involved in protecting a lake or water body, we want to know. Take a few minutes of your time to complete a simple questionnaire, available online at:

For more information

ecosan 1
A global database on Ecosan projects by Ecosanres
  On you can find the results of a survey on existing ecosan projects around the world, just by clicking on maps.

It is rather impressing to see in how many countries of the world ecosan activities are going on today. But apart from this, who is the target group of this website? Unfortunately, only a limited amount of information is listed: the provinces or cities, the responsible organizations and the number of toilets.

It would be really nice to get some more details (and photos!) about the single projects, their location, contact persons etc. As it is, the map is just a (very nice) gadget. Awaiting version 2.0 of it...

Source: A. Schoenborn, inspired by the Ecosan Newsletter, issue No. 20, May 2006

ecosan 2
Book by Peter Morgan - Ecological Approach to Sanitation in Africa: A Compilation of Experiences
  Text taken and slightly dapted from the Ecosanres website:

"This mammoth work by Peter Morgan is meant to pass on the knowledge he has gained during a period of researching the topic known as ecological sanitation – a method which involves recycling human excreta.

It is an attempt to make "eco-san" simple and cost-effective for use by low income communities in Africa. The ultimate aim is to form much stronger links between sanitation, agriculture and food production that actually work in practice, and can benefit the users beyond the requirement of providing a toilet alone. It also aims to demonstrate that effective toilets for use in Africa can be built by a family with very little support from outside.

The work places shallow pit composting eco-toilets under the umbrella of ecological sanitation, as the pit latrine is the most commonly used toilet in Africa, and is likely to remain so for some time. It makes sense therefore to form stronger links between eco-san and existing well established systems like the pit toilet. The work also describes simple urine diversion systems, which are more familiar in programmes promoting eco-san.

No attempt has been made here to describe the full range of eco-sanitary options or programmes, which are described in detail elsewhere. This work describes personal experiences only. It has become clear that this story of eco-san is exciting and may have far reaching implications in the future. It adds new dimensions to the rather drab story of conventional sanitation and offers ways to overcome several existing problems."

All book chapters can be downloaded from

Course: Sustainable Livelihood approaches to Water and Sanitation Programmes: tackling poverty through multiple uses of water
  Organised by: NETWAS International

Target group: Managers and other staff in development cooperation, development workers, managers of non-governmental organisations. The course will provide an introduction to water management and livelihoods development strategies. In this context, it will promote a better consideration of the cross-cutting issue "water" in the discussion of household's living strategies. The combination of the domestic and productive benefits can add up to an appreciable impact on livelihoods and poverty eradication.

Cost: USD 1,480 (1,223 Euro) per participant. This fee includes tuition fees, course material, books and a field trip.

Deadline: 7 July 2006

Contact: Coordinator of the course, NETWAS International


Source: Ecosan Newsletter, issue No. 20, May 2006

Graduate course: Biological Waste Treatment Technology for Urban Wastes
  The course "Biological Waste Treatment Technology for Urban Wastes" is a graduate course (with a project to be carried out in January 2007) at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences [10 credits (15 ECTS credits)].

The main focus of this course is on treatment and handling systems allowing for the safe, environmentally friendly and resource efficient recycling of plant nutrients and organic matter in organic household waste (urine, faeces, kitchen waste etc.) back to the cultivation of crops. The emphasis of the course is on source-separating sanitation systems (e.g. urine diversion systems), composting and anaerobic digestion, but conventional handling and treatment systems (waterborne sanitation systems and processes, active sludge processes, bio-beds, chemical precipitation, pond systems; incineration and land-filling of solid organic waste) are also covered.

The course treats processes and systems relevant both in developed and developing countries. The course ends with a two-week individual project on producing initial plans for an ecosan system and evaluating its effects on society and environment. The intention is that this project is done back home during the weeks following the course weeks in Sweden. The course is aimed at linking advanced theoretical understanding with practical experience. It is well suited both for graduate students and experienced professionals.

The course is given in English using PBL (problem based learning). It is given at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, 80 km north of Stockholm. It starts Oct 30, the lectures in Sweden end on Dec 22, and the project is due during January 2007.

Registration deadline for applications:
Oct 1st 2006 to Håkan Jönsson (Applications should include your qualifications.)



Source: Ecosan Newsletter, issue No. 20, May 2006

New book
Eco Civilization 2140
  A brief review by the Midwest Book Review, Small Press Bookwatch, Vol 5, No. 5 May 2006:

Eco Civilization 2140: A Twenty-Second-Century History And Survivor's Journal by Roy Morrison is a comprehensive introduction to a range of ideas and innovations with respect to modern energy alternatives and potential ecological struggles and possible advancements for the coming generations.

Delving deeply into modern economics and the study of the futuristic town of Warner, New Hampshire in the year 2140, with a conceptual and likely predictive analysis of the post-ecological crisis of the 21st century, Eco Civilization 2140 is an essential log and wide understanding of the future world and its history in the times between now and then.

With its unique approach of "reversed historical perspective", Eco Civilization 2140 is highly recommended reading for environmental activists and policy makers for its post-modern ideals and grand interpretation of futuristic and near-future realistic study of political sciences, ecology, and energy studies.

Order at:

Source: Email by the author Roy Morrison

New presentations and background information available
  Ruud Kampf has recently made available a number of documents (in English language) related to his Waterharmonica concept (see his article in EcoEng-Newsletter 10, Dec. 2004). Ruud's presentation, held on April 6, 2006 at WUR Nieuwlanden, Netherlands, allows a glimpse on his huge experience in ecological engineering. It contains photos and data from the Everstekoog wetland (NL), the plants at Grou (NL) and Empuriabrava (Spain) and examples from his project work in Nepal and Tanzania. Very interesting. Downloading the 1.8 MB PDF will take some time with a slow internet connection.


Source: email by Ruud Kampf

Web 1 - An Urban Laboratory (?)
  According to Wikipedia, Arcosanti ( is a planned community for 5000 people designed by architect Paolo Soleri, and under construction since 1970. Located in central Arizona, the project is based on Soleri's concept of Arcology - that is: architecture coherent with ecology [2]. The concept was introduced in the late 1960's.

An arcology is a hyperdense city designed to maximize human interaction; maximize access to shared, cost-effective infrastructural services like water and sewage; minimize the use of energy, raw materials and land; reduce waste and environmental pollution; and allow interaction with the surrounding natural environment. Arcosanti is the prototype of the desert arcology.[1]

Since 1970, over 6000 people have participated in Arcosanti's construction. As of 2005 less than 1% of Arcosanti have been completed [2].

The original approach of Arcosanti looks rather attractive and includes many ideas familiar to Ecological Engineers. The buildings and architectural drawings shown on their website [1] are of a strange, uncommon beauty. Yet, the reality seems to speak another language: No more than 120 inhabitants after 30 years of development [3] doesn't look like a thriving community. Can a small place like this even be called urban? What in concrete is the urban lab part of Arcosanti and has it produced any tangible results?

Only a direct visit would allow to get answers. If any of our readers passes by Arcosanti, please report about it to our newsletter. Alex Steffen's critical report of his visit in 2004 [4] may help to not get hopes up too high.

Sources used:

Web 2 - Crystal Waters Permaculture Village, Australia
  Crystal Waters Permaculture Village ( is a "socially and environmentally responsible, economically viable rural subdivision" located in Conondale, north of Brisbane (Australia). "It was designed by Max Lindegger, Robert Tap, Barry Goodman and Geoff Young, and established in 1987.

The "83 freehold residential and 2 commercial lots occupy 20% of the 259ha (640 acre) property. The remaining 80% is the best land, and is owned in common. It can be licensed for sustainable agriculture, forestry, recreation and habitat projects. The village centre is zoned for commerce, light industry, tourism and educational activities."

The most interesting part of their website is where the authors write about lessons learnt and the transferability of their experiences. An interesting issue is that the founders "learnt not to accept speculators" even though that was rather tempting for them in the difficult financial situation at the beginning. "What an aspiring village needs most is people", they write, and that absent speculators would make little contribution to that.

Their brief list of transferable features includes wastewater re-utilization, rainwater collection, energy saving and the careful choice of materials - and it looks like a catalogue of criteria for good Ecological Engineering to me. Permaculture itself is a close kin of Ecological Engineering - how well it really works can of course only be assessed on site.

So, if you ever travel in Australia, don't hesitate to stop at Crystal Waters, have a closer look and report about it to this newsletter ;-)

Andreas Schoenborn-Schaller

All citations taken from

Web 3 - Advocating a really open sciencific attitude
  Richard Milton is a writer, broadcaster and journalist who is up for shedding a different light on scientific discovery. And he sure does! His website "Alternative Science" ( ) is an exciting website by someone who knows how to write and get the thrills through. And he's courageous: Thinking loudly about precognition, remote viewing or spontaneous human combustion will ruin your reputation in the scientific arena in no time .

In my view the most interesting and delighting part of "" is where Milton deals with "Pseudoscience" which for him is science that has turned to belief. In Milton's words, Pseudoscience is a "generalised, unconsciously felt, almost mystical belief in scientific rationalism." He states that "this belief makes some scientists (and quite a few non-scientists) believe that they are able to predict what is true and what is untrue about the natural world, without the need to perform any experiments or analysis, merely by reference to a 'common sense' rationalist model they share."

In such a rather un-scientific attitude, he writes, "subjects such as homeopathy, cold fusion and ley lines (...) are often dismissed out of hand as unscientific nonsense, not because they have been studied but because they threaten to violate the accepted canons of scientific rationalism." Milton advocates a scientific attitude that is "willing to confront anomalous, disturbing data, even when that evidence is deeply traumatic to our settled world view."

In my view, it is really high time to promote this open attitude in science and society. The gap between what official science accepts as real on one hand and the world views and experiences of many people on the other hand is already wide. Science risks to lose credibility among them if it is not becoming more open.

A. Schoenborn-Schaller

All of Richard Milton's citations (in italics) taken from

Web 4 - a Swiss foundation supports ecological agriculture in Africa
  From the BioVision website:

"BioVision is a foundation with a global mandate to alleviate poverty and improve the livelihoods of poor people while maintaining the precious natural resource base that sustains life.

BioVision functions as an intermediate between research institutes and local communities. BioVision activities in Africa concentrate on improving human-, animal-, plant- and environmental health - with a special focus on women and youth - through the dissemination of appropriate development methods and capacity building at community level."

Citation taken from

© 2006, International Ecological Engineering Society, Wolhusen, Switzerland